THE MISINFORMATION COMBAT ALLIANCE (ASSOCIATION)
The Misinformation Combat Alliance Association (MCAA) shall form the Misinformation Combat Alliance which shall have a Governing Council (hereinafter referred to as “MCA Governing Council”, “MCA GC”, or “GC”). The MCA is a cross industry collaborative effort set up with the objective of combatting and limiting the spread of misinformation through targeted interventions and activities. As India confronts many challenges, there is one that is spreading quickly: an infodemic. Misinformation is eroding trust in media and institutions, creating unrest among different sections and communities of society; putting law, order, and public safety at risk, and is also impacting the health of individuals across the country.
This problem cannot be solved by any single person or organization alone. There needs to be a collaborative effort addressing India’s unique predicament to get our message across and create a more enlightened and aware digital society.
At the same time, there is no single body representing fact checkers, media institutions, companies and organizations wanting to confront the challenge of misinformation. This is where the MCA would like to step in and represent, clarify, evolve, and amplify the interests of our stakeholders in confronting the challenges we face.
An enlightened digital society that is able to limit the spread of misinformation and negate bad actors and actions in the information ecosystem.
- Scale: Reach every internet user in the country and make them digital media literate, thereby enabling them to combat misinformation.
- Impact: Change the behavior of internet users to make them pause, think and question before sharing and amplifying misinformation.
- Initiate and engage in relevant dialogue and discussions with key stakeholders on matters pertaining to the ecosystem.
- Represent the MCA’s viewpoint on key issues after discussion with all members of the MCA and the Governing Council.
- Raise adequate resources to enable activities, projects, and events of the MCA.
SCOPE OF ACTIVITIES OF THE MISINFORMATION COMBAT ALLIANCE
The activities of the MCA will fall into the following broad categories :-
- Undertake media literacy, social media literacy, digital safety and other awareness activities through members and partners at scale, aiming to reach as many internet users as possible.
- Partner with organizations to execute projects related to the information ecosystem.
- Data collection in order to undertake research, analyze trends and publish papers/reports.
- Development of technologies, tools, and processes to aid in fact checking and verification, therefore curbing the spread of misinformation in furtherance of our mission.
- Launch fellowship programs for pre-determined activities.
- Collectively formulate viewpoints on matters of policy, pertaining to the information ecosystem and make representations to the relevant stakeholders.
- Ignite conversations around the information ecosystem, state of fact checking, media, trust, and society, etc. to initiate public debate through online and offline events.
- Create key events for engagement between members of the organization.
- Ensure compliance with relevant laws
- Raise funds to support projects from individuals and organizations that can aid the MCA in its mission.
STRUCTURE OF THE MISINFORMATION COMBAT ALLIANCE ASSOCIATION
- MCAA and the Board of Directors which will act on the advice of the MCA Governing Council
- The MCA and the MCA Governing Council which is the main decision-making body of the MCA
- The MCA full time staff (henceforth called the “The Secretariat” or “Secretariat”)
- MCA members
MEMBERSHIP TO THE MCA
- Any organization can become a member of the Misinformation Combat Alliance if they agree to abide by the charter of the Misinformation Combat Alliance. These include:
- Fact checking organizations
- Media companies, projects, and initiatives
- Social media companies and digital platforms
- OEMs and Telcos
- Industry Associations
- OTTs: Audio and video
- Civil society and not for profit organizations
- Educational institutions
- Government Bodies*
- All members need to agree to undertake specific deliverables towards achieving our mission. These deliverables will be specific to each member and will be recorded in an MoU.
- Membership to the MCA will be free for the first two years. Post that, the Governing Council will reconsider this based on the financial situation and needs of the Alliance. Should there be a need, and as agreed by the Governing Council, members can contribute towards the working capital requirements of the MCA.
- All new members need to be ratified by the Governing Council.
- Membership does not mandate agreement on every project taken up by the Alliance.
- Every founding member will sign an MoU indicating willingness to be a member. The first set of members will henceforth be called “Founding Members”
THE GOVERNING COUNCIL
- Composition: The Governing Council will have 15 (Fifteen) Members, divided as per the following :-
- President (Executive)
- Vice President (Working)
- GC Members (9)
- Independent Governing Council Members (3) – Nominated by the other 12 members of the board within 2 months of the Governing Council being constituted.
- Term: Members of the Governing Council will be elected for a 2-year term. A Governing Council member can serve for a maximum of 2 consecutive terms.
- Appointment and Elections:
- The Governing Council (12 members) will be elected by Members of the MCA. The same includes the President, Vice-President and Treasurer. At the time of elections, members of the MCA can nominate themselves or others who are members of the MCA. Elections will take place for each post in the Governing Council (except nominated members). Once elections are declared and nominations are in, Members will have 10 calendar days to vote for the Governing Council.
- The posts of President, Vice President and Treasurer in the Governing Council will also be up for vote and Members of the MCA can indicate who their choice for these posts is. Those standing for elections to the Governing Council can also choose if they would like to be considered for any of these three posts. One must be a member of the GC to be President, Vice President and Treasurer.
- Independent Directors to the MCAA Board will be proposed by the President and voted upon by the Governing Council. Independent Directors will be nominated within 1 calendar month of the new Governing Council meeting for the first time.
- At the end of the 2-year term, the Alliance Manager at the Secretariat will call for elections. For the constitution of the next Governing Council, founding members and other members will vote to create the next Governing Council.
- Founding members of the MCA will be on the first MCA Governing Council. Upon the expiry of the term of the first Governing Council, members can choose to opt for another term by entering the election process.
- Resignation and Termination
- Resignation: A member of the GC may resign if he/she is unable to fulfill responsibilities by giving one month’s notice. The Governing Council shall meet to approve/reject the resignation.
- Termination: If a member of the GC fails to discharge his/her duties, or there is a breach of trust, he/she can be removed from the Council if 2/3rd or more GC members agree for such a removal with a quorum of at least 9 GC members.
- Upon resignation or termination, the Alliance Manager at the Misinformation Combat Alliance Association will have to call for elections within 5 calendar days of such a position falling vacant and conclude the elections process within 30 calendar days of the vacancy. The newly elected Council member will continue for the remaining period of the original member.
- Meetings: Frequency, Notice, Decision Making, Quorum, Voting, Minutes
- Frequency: The Governing Council will meet once a month – there should be 12 meetings in a year. The gap between two successive meetings should not be more than 50 days. If the majority of the Governing Council members agree that there is no need for a meeting, the same can be excluded for the relevant month. Meetings may be required additionally, over the decided period, and may be called by the President with agreement from the Governing Council .
- Meeting Form: The Governing Council meetings may happen in person or online.
- Notice: Notice of the Governing Council meeting along with the agenda will be given by the President in conjunction with the Alliance Manager at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting.
- Quorum: The quorum will be based on the type of decisions. Certain types of decisions may require a different quorum.
- Admitting new members: 7 members
- Approving partnerships and alliances: 7 members
- Approving financial proposals: 11 members
- Removing members of the Governing Council and Members of the MCA : Atleast 9 members attending the meeting with 2/3rds majority approving the resolution.
- Approving financial reports: Minimum of 9 members attending the meeting with 2/3rds majority approving the resolution.
- Approving policy submissions and government engagements: Minimum of 9 members attending the meeting with 2/3rds majority approving the resolution
- Approving sponsorships: 9 members
- Minutes: Minutes of the meeting will be maintained by the Alliance Manager and circulated by the President within 5 calendar days of conducting a Governing Council meeting.
- Special invitees: The Alliance Manager will be a special invitee for all Governing Council meetings. The Council , by a simple majority, may choose to invite other individuals as they deem fit to discuss an item on the agenda.
- Decisions: The Governing Council will strive for consensus, and decisions can be made with a single majority among the quorum, if a first attempt to reach 2/3rd majority fails.
- Roles & Responsibilities
- Strategy, Supervision and Organisation
- Discuss and prepare the yearly strategy plans and obtain approval from the Governing Council before the end of each financial year for the upcoming year.
- Provide guidance, advice, and direction to execute the yearly strategy plan.
- Assist The Misinformation Combat Alliance in troubleshooting challenges and providing support in operations when/where needed.
- Evaluate the performance of the Alliance and take corrective action when/where needed.
- Look into grievances and complaints brought forth by Members of the MCA.
- Evaluate the Governing Structure and recommend changes as needed for ratification by Members of the MCA.
- Determine if fees need to be charged for membership to the organization.
- The Governing Council President and Vice President
- The President of the Governing Council will lead the MCA. He/she will act as a bridge between the Misinformation Combat Alliance Association and the Governing Council and will participate in the running and functioning of the Alliance.
- The Vice President will participate actively in the running of the MCA and with support from the Alliance Manager, ensure execution of the plans. The Vice President will be the working link between the MCA Governing Council and The Secretariat
- The Governing Council shall have an obligation to act in an impartial manner with respect to approvals/decisions regarding the MCA.
- The Misinformation Combat Alliance Governing Council shall be bound to keep clear and accurate accounts of the MCA, and at all reasonable times, at the request of the Governing Council and/or the Board of Directors of The Misinformation Combat Alliance Association, or members, furnish him/her with full and accurate information as to the same.
- Assist in fundraising and partnerships to strengthen the MCA.
- Approve financial plans and proposals put forth by the President and the Alliance Manager.
- Evaluate and approve sponsorship and partnership proposals that help the MCA Governing Council bring in funds.
- Oversee and approve financial reports prepared periodically.
- Decide on membership fees (if any) for joining the alliance.
- Hiring, Nominations and Appointments
- Assist in the hiring of the Alliance Manager and other employees of the Misinformation Combat Alliance Association .
- Evaluate and approve an increase in full-time staff headcount for The Secretariat as and when needed.
- Vote on Independent Directors and Independent Governing Council member nominations.
- Accept or reject new member recommendations. New member admissions must be made within 20 calendar days unless (i) a further discussion is needed on the same which will not extend beyond 10 calendar days as agreed by at least ½ the Governing Council (ii) a majority has been reached by the time all members vote. While considering this, the deliverables from each new member will also be put forward in front of the GC .
- Represent the MCA to the larger community and external stakeholders.
- The Governing Council shall keep and shall take reasonable efforts to keep confidential all details and transactions relating to the MCA Governing Council and the state of affairs of the MCA except as otherwise compelled to disclose by operation of law and all Governing Council members and all other members shall sign Non-Disclosure Agreements.
- Remuneration: Governing Council members are not financially compensated for their role on the board. In subsequent years, depending on the financial situation of the alliance, an honorarium may be paid. This will require ratification by members of the MCA Governing Council. The President, Vice President and Treasurer will also not be compensated, and any decision to do so will need approval from the Council based on an evaluation of finances.
- Liability of Breach of Trust Where the Governing Council Members and all other members commit a breach of trust, they shall be liable to make good the loss which the Misinformation Combat Alliance has thereby sustained, unless a Member has been induced by fraud to commit the breach, or being competent to contract, The Misinformation Combat Alliance has itself, without coercion or undue influence having been brought to bear on them, concurred in the breach, or subsequently acquiesced therein, with full knowledge of the facts of the case and of his/her rights as against the Member.
THE MISINFORMATION COMBAT ALLIANCE
The Misinformation Combat Alliance Association will have a Secretariat which will consist of full-time/contractual employees who will be responsible for the execution of the yearly plans and day-to-day functioning of the MCA. The terms of employment/contract will be approved by the MCA Governing Council along with the headcount and remuneration. It will be headed by an Alliance Manager who will have more support staff under him/her. The Alliance manager will also work closely with the MCA GC and the President and VIce President of the MCA to ensure smooth operations of the MCA.
All decisions of the Governing Council shall be ratified by the Board of Directors of the Misinformation Combat Alliance Association in a Board Meeting.
- The MCA Governing Council will raise grants, subscriptions, gifts, sponsorships, donations, and partner contributions to support the execution of yearly plans and maintain operations of the Misinformation Combat Alliance and the Misinformation Combat Alliance Association.
- All fund-raising proposals will be put before the Governing Council for approval. All the deliverables and expectations from the sponsor/donor will be clearly and transparently highlighted.
- Yearly budgets and project/event budgets will be presented before the Governing Council for approval.
- The Governing Council will receive a monthly update on finances. Members of the MCA will get quarterly finance updates and reports. We will also update these details on our website at the periodicity mentioned here.
- The Misinformation Combat Alliance Association is permitted to apply for grant proposals and challenges on behalf of the MCA after obtaining approval from the Governing Council .
- Currently, an account has been opened at the Kotak Mahindra Bank, Barakhamba Road Branch, Delhi. INR 100000 was deposited into the account from NC Media Networks Pvt Ltd.’s account as initial capital. The President, Vice President, Treasurer and/or any other person authorized by the Governing Council shall operate the Bank Account.
- We will also apply for and comply with FCRA and open a bank account in the stipulated bank and branch.
- Upon need and approval of the Governing Council, the MCA Governing Council may evaluate and undertake actions to open accounts as may be needed for the smooth functioning of operations.
- The Secretariat will be responsible for all communication with the Governing Council and members of the MCA.
- The Governing Council will receive updates every two weeks. Members of the MCA will receive monthly updates.
- Most of the communication will be in the form of emailers, newsletters, documents, and reports. Slack will also be used for real time communication and updates.
- Communication for carrying on the activities of the MCA which require voting will also take place.
- Updates will consist of new partners, new initiatives, developments and progress, important information from the information ecosystem and partners, impact of the MCA’s work, etc.
- There will be quarterly update calls with all members and one annual general meeting to present annual progress and the report of annual activities.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
- Should the Governing Board be taking decisions which involve a member or his/her organization, such a member will recuse himself/herself from such discussions.
- The MCA Governing Council will collectively work towards achieving its mission rather than for individual organizations. While there is a likelihood that the MCA will get into transactions with members of the alliance as well those on the Governing Council, such agreements will be disclosed and made available to the Governing Council. It will also be disclosed in our communications and reports.
- Many grants are available to IFCN members, or to a consortium where IFCN members are involved. In such a case, during the application process, all IFCN Signatories and other members of the Alliance will be asked if they would like to partner for the application to the grant. Once broad contours of the grant proposal are prepared, it will be shared with the Governing Council for approval, who will have to give their response within a stipulated period as decided, keeping in mind deadlines to apply for such a grant.
- Big Tech and Platforms: The MCA will work with Big Tech and social media platforms in the following capacities
- Big Tech/Platforms as a Sponsor
- Big Tech/Platforms as a Distribution Partner
- Special projects/Joint projects
- Given that many platforms could engage with us, we will be transparent about our interactions and ensure there is unity of purpose.
- Also work with platforms to develop effective communication on how they deal with misinformation - this could also be a content in the modules we make.
- Some members of the MCA or MCA Governing Council may stand to benefit financially from certain activities that the MCA Governing Council will undertake. In all such instances, a member-wide RFP will be made, and such decisions will require representatives of such organizations who have submitted a response to the RFP from recusing themselves during the vote if represented in the Governing Council.
- For other activities, RFPs will be issued, and members can forward it to people/organizations they know. A transparent mechanism will be followed for reviewing and choosing the most qualified and economically sound execution partner. This policy will be reviewed in the interest of speed and execution periodically.
ENGAGING WITH GOVERNMENT
- The MCA recognizes that engaging with the Government and its authorities can be contentious. It will therefore only engage in good faith when the outcome is expected to be fruitful and will benefit the country, while also achieving the mission of the MCA.
- Any financial proposal involving the government will require consent from the Governing Council .
- Any interaction between Governing Council members and the Government involving MCA needs to be disclosed in advance to the MCA Governing Council. We will largely have interactions with the government for becoming a content distribution partner, giving inputs on policy matters, jointly working on campaigns to prevent the spread of misinformation, giving an understanding of the information ecosystem etc.
- Every proposal/engagement with the government will be evaluated on a case-on-case basis by the Governing Council.
- The MCA Governing Council will withdraw from discussions and engagements if there is even the slightest doubt of the MCA’s independence being compromised.
- Political parties and state governments may also engage with the MCA. We will present it before the Governing Council, and after approval carry out further conversations.
CHANGES TO GOVERNING STRUCTURE
- Any changes to the governing structure of the MCAA, MCA, the Secretariat and MCA Governing Council can be proposed by the Governing Council. Alternatively, members of the MCA can also propose changes
- Such a change(s) will be presented to the MCA Governing Council for a vote. Such voting needs to be concluded within 10 calendar days of the changes being proposed and brought to the GC unless majority GC members agree to consider the changes for a longer period of time.